Fall 2014 Newsletter

Fall 2014 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Alliance for Smiles is celebrating its 10 year anniversary! We have an established history of inspiring our volunteers to make huge differences in the lives of children in so many countries, and we are very proud of our work in China, Myanmar, Africa, The Philippines and Bangladesh.

Our Treatment Center Program has gone forward with five Treatment Centers being created in China and the prospect of others outside of China opening up. None of these accomplishments would have been done without hugely dedicated individuals giving of themselves, their talents, and their financial resources throughout the years.

The greatest tribute to our success remains the many lives we have changed through surgical intervention and the goodwill that has been established internationally. No one whom we have served will ever forget the kind heartedness and noble intentions of everyone who makes up Alliance for Smiles. Core to our beliefs is the necessity to work to create liaisons between our teams and local medical professionals.

As we begin our next decade, we have much to celebrate, and I want you to read the two stories in this edition of our newsletter that capsulize how we are making a difference one child at a time.

The year is drawing to an end, and I am personally asking you to consider making a donation to help us continue our work. If you cannot personally donate, please tell our stories to your families and friends so they will have the opportunity to help.

Together we can do more than change the lives of our patients and their families. We can take a step to create a world where people of many cultures and differences show they care about one another.

All my wishes for a joyful holiday season and a wonderful new year!
Karl Wustrack, MD
Chairman of the Board

Trip Report: Bijie, China

In September, an Alliance for Smiles medical team visited Bijie, China for the third time. We performed 91 surgeries on 83 patients; the value of the donated medical services was $322,401. Alliance for Smiles would like to thank STOP Cleft International Alliance, the Rotary Club of Wanchai, and The China Population Welfare Foundation for supporting this mission.

Every child, every patient we treat is important. At moments a special story is revealed, and sometimes it is this story that inspires us to continue our work, and change lives. Such is the story of Xin Qi Pei.

This lovely sweet shy child had more severe deformities than most of our patients. Her condition seemed hopeless, but team member and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Gagan Sabharwal felt compelled to help her. He was convinced that surgery could dramatically change the way the world looks at her.

In Dr. Sabharwal’s words:

Xin Qi Pei came to AfS, during the Guiyang mission in August last year. The moment I saw this girl I wanted to operate on her. There was huge resistance at first because this was a complex craniofacial case with major complications.

I said that since the child is four years old, I knew that the father would have gone to many hospitals and would have faced rejection over and over. I begged for just one chance, knowing I would not let her down. The next day Pei was examined by the pediatrician and the anesthesiologist and found fit for surgery. I actually did a mock surgery on paper to show what could be done. Finally, the team agreed to move forward.

Although the surgery was difficult, the most touching moment was in the recovery when her father saw her for the first time. He sat quietly next to her and admired her for almost five minutes and then burst into tears. I guess it was the emotions of so many years which he had inside him. He then spoke to one of the interpreters and told her that he had travelled to different parts of China, to so many hospitals since she was born, and no one felt they had the skills to help her. He was so thankful to AfS for giving a new life to his daughter.

The Guiyang mission was my first ever mission. It changed me as a human being. It changed the way I look at life now. Pei will always be my special kid because of how I had to fight for her. After the case finished our lead surgeon Dr. Fred Tomlinson patted me on the back and told me I should be proud of what I had done. I was humbled and touched.

Pei’s journey was not over. During this September mission to Bijie, she had her cleft palate repaired by Dr. Sabharwal. In May 2015 he will return to China with AfS to repair her nose and reconstruct her nostril. In so many ways Pei’s life has just begun.

Trip Report: Yangon, Myanmar

For the second time this year, Alliance for Smiles visited Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, for a medical mission. The staff at Victoria Hospital once again welcomed a team of medical and non-medical volunteers led by AfS Board member Tina Hollcroft. The mission was a great success, with 89 patients receiving 93 procedures. Of these procedures, 71 lip repairs, 18 palate repairs, and 4 other surgeries were performed. The value of donated medical services was $416,113. The value of donated dental procedures, including teeth cleanings for patients and their family members, totaled $9,751.

This mission was generously supported by the Victoria Health Support Foundation, the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, the Rotary Club of San Francisco, and Rotary District 6910, as well as many individual donors and fundraisers.

Below is a sample “Daily Briefing”. These Daily Briefings are sent out to the team, the team’s family and our supporters at large. They give insight into a day in the life of a team member, as well as incredible stories and photos of our patients. The Briefing below features a patient that received lip surgery during the March mission to Yangon, and received palate surgery on the October mission.

Aung Aung Htoo, affectionally known as “Mini-Monk”

Zee Haut Sein (mother) and U. Kyaw Htike (father) have waited 7 years for their son to have his cleft lip and palate repaired. In March we repaired his lip and yesterday his palate. They are farmers in the Sitkyine region outside Mandalay, 13 hours bus ride from Yangon and they earn 200,000 kyat ($200 US) annually. Aung Aung’s life before and after is quite different.

Before his lip repair he was shy and reserved. However, his parents told me that he has “spirit” and when the other kids would make fun of him he wanted to “fight.” He only attended school for one year before they removed him and arranged through an Uncle his ultimate admission into monk-hood. They wanted blessings for him and not such a difficult life considering his deformity. He was constantly the subject of ridicule and joking and even his fellow novice monks were abusive. Imagine how sad this must have been for such a young child living in a monastery where there is supposed to be peace and harmony.

After the lip repair he returned to the Monastrey in March with confidence and now enjoys the daily readings and meditations. They told me he has been called handsome by many, which makes him smile. And what a great smile he has! We have repaired his palate and his parents tell me they feel his “spirit” will be stronger too. Imagine the blessings that will flow from the mouth of this young novice monk as he begins to speak. I feel he will be a great monk and share peace and tranquility with many, just as he has done with our team members here in Yangon.

Where Your Donations Went

Today, the big questions we hear from donors are: “What did you do with my donation? Where did my money go? What value does my donation have?” Well here is our answer!
Every non profit has the following costs:

Operational Costs — which include direct expenses (such as airfares & medical supplies) and indirect expenses (such as warehouse space & salaries for staff who make the missions happen).

Overhead Costs — which include fundraising and general management expenses.

For Fiscal 2013 (July 2013 to June 2014) Alliance for Smiles spent a very modest 16% on overhead with 84% of funds directed totally to operational (program) expenses. Compared to last year, we decreased our overhead expenses from 18% to 16%.

However, when factoring in the value of donated professional services, an element that needs to be figured into the entire financial picture, the overhead figure is reduced to 3%. This percentage means that out of every dollar donated only 3¢ (three cents!) goes to overhead. The value of our donated professional services is a whopping $3.5 Million.

We know that without our huge bank of volunteers we would need more employees, and our budget and overhead would be much larger. It is volunteer services that make us so efficient and cost-effective. Your donation stretches a long way to provide our services and help kids who would otherwise not have a future.

Treatment Centers

On September 20, 2014 Alliance for Smiles joined with our partners The China Population Welfare Foundation, The Guizhou Family Planning Association, The Guiyang City Family Planning Association and the Guiyang Stomatology Hospital to establish our fifth Treatment Center in China: The Guiyang Happy Smiles International Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment Center.

Alliance for Smiles was represented by Anita Stangl, President and CEO; Dr. Karin Vargervik, Vice President for Treatment Centers, and Dr. Colin Wong, Vice President for China Affairs. The entire team of AfS volunteers that had just completed surgery on 83 under-served children in Bijie witnessed the ceremony as well.

During the ceremony Chinese officials expressed appreciation to Alliance for Smiles and its volunteers who have been providing free reconstructive surgery for the last three years in the Guizhou province. The Guiyang Stomatology Hospital is likewise committed to helping the underserved in Guizhou which has the lowest GNP of all the provinces in China. Since 2012, AfS has conducted 10 surgical missions in Guizhou, and the Guiyang Treatment Center is the second one to be established in the province.

This new partner hospital embraces what is core to the philosophy of AfS’ Treatment Centers, which is a commitment to forming a team of experts in the different disciplines needed to effectively treat children born with clefts. The surgery is the first step, but it must be followed with protocols prescribed by a full team including speech therapy, dentistry, additional surgeries and even counseling. AfS is so pleased that this hospital is committed to implementing this type of plan for effective treatment of patients and looks forward to working with the team.

In order to help the hospital in its efforts to provide free surgeries, Alliance for Smiles donated a complete set of cleft lip and palate instruments.

Mark Your Calendars!

2014 Winter Holiday Party
On Thursday, December 4th, 2014 we will host our annual Holiday party! This complimentary evening is open to all with no RSVP necessary. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served. You will also have a chance to purchase unique holiday gifts from around the world. The party is from 5pm to 8pm at our office at 2565 Third Street, Suite 237, in San Francisco. Come celebrate all of our successes this year!

2015 Gala Celebrating our 10th Birthday!
Alliance for Smiles will be holding its 10th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The date is set for April 11th, 2015. This special milestone event will honor everyone who helped us achieve so much in the past ten years. If you would like to receive a hard copy invitation to the Gala, or would like to donate an item for the live or silent auction, please email events@allianceforsmiles.org. Tables of 10 seats purchased before February 13th, 2015 will be discounted. Please consider sponsoring a table for your company, family, or friends.

Volunteer Training
On Sunday April 12th, 2015 (the day after the Gala) we are holding our annual Volunteer Training session. We will be covering both medical and non medical positions. Continuing Education Credits will be available for nurses. More information to follow.